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Crawfoot (or Crowfoot), James

Born at Clotton, Cheshire, in 1758 or 1759, he lived for much of his life at Tarvin, near Tarporley. He worked as a farm labourer, but later described himself as a farmer. His early background was Anglican, but he became a WM class leader and local preacher in the Northwich Circuit, before being expelled in 1807 for his irregularities. He became known as 'the Old Man of the Forest' or 'the Forest Mystic' and formed small bands of highly charismatic followers, known as Forest (or Magic) Methodists, most (though not all) of whom became part of the PM movement. He himself was hired by Hugh Bourne in 1809 as the first itinerant in what became the PM connexion. He and his followers placed great emphasis on the interpretation of dreams, trances and prophecy. His gifts were best suited to small groups and he led many into a deeper prayer life. He separated from PM in 1813 in circumstances that are difficult to determine, but possibly over personal difficulties with Bourne. He died at Barrow, Cheshire on 23 January 1839.


  • G. Herod, Biographical Sketches... (c.1855) pp.241-72
  • John T. Horne, 'James Crawfoot: a character study', in PM Quarterly Review, 44 (1902) pp.578-92
  • H.B. Kendall, The Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church (1906) 2, pp.147-54
  • Edward Langton in WHS Proceedings, 30 pp.12-15
  • H. Rack (ed.), James Crawfoot and the Magic Methodists (York, 2003)

Entry written by: WP
Category: Person

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